What Are the Best Recent War Films?

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What Are the Best Recent War Films?

War films have been a staple genre for cinema ever since the medium of moving pictures was invented, and they’re still going strong today. Whilst it can be seen that there aren’t as many being made nowadays (partly due to the main tales being told and the emergence of franchise films), the drop in quantity has been more than made up for in the rise of quality. In recent years there have been several well made war films that depict the many wars of the 20th century in a high quality cinematic light. So which war films have been the stand out must sees in the past few years?

1917

Perhaps the most recent war film to grace the big screen has been 1917. First released in 2019, the Sam Mendes directed film follows the story of two soldiers during the First World War as they are sent on a mission to deliver an important message across enemy lines. One thing that has made 1917 stand out from the crowd is the one shot nature of the film, making it look like everything was shot in a single take. Obviously it wasn’t, but it’s worth seeing for that alone. Plus, the film pulls no punches when it comes to the gore that ordinary soldiers witness. It might be enough to put you off your popcorn.

Dunkirk

One week. One day. One hour. In this Christopher Nolan movie we follow three stories, all centring around the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940 during World War II. On land, the foot soldiers are stranded on the beach for a week. On the sea, a flotilla of small civilian sailing boats are en route from the south coast of England to rescue them, and in the air there is a dogfight between groups of Spitfires and Messerschmitts. Like 1917, it’s a different stylistic take on a war film, and just like typical Nolan, it plays with the concept of time. It might even be worth a watch alone to see Harry Styles making his acting debut. If you want to grab it on DVD or Blu Ray for less, then check out the many deals that can be found on My Favourite Voucher Codes.

Inglourious Basterds

I see your Christopher Nolan and I raise you a Quention Tarantino. This 2009 black comedy is set in France during WW2 and is tonally very different to many war films. There aren’t bombs and battlefields, but very long pulse-racing dialogue-heavy scenes that are typical of a Tarantino film, as well as a pretty unexpected ending. Worth a watch just to be a Taratino completist, if anything.

Hacksaw Ridge

Pacifism. It’s not something often seen in war movies, but it’s the focal point of Hacksaw Ridge. Andrew Garfield portrays Desmond Doss in what is a true story, the Seventh-day Adeventist was a conscientious objector, who was a combat medic that refused to carry a firearm of any kind. The bit that really sets this one alight is the tense and often nerve wracking sequence during the Battle of Okinawa.

Captain America: The First Avenger

This one’s for those of you reading this article that perhaps like films but not necessarily war films. Set primarily during WW2, this film tracks the journey of Steve Rogers and how he went from being a pushover in Brooklyn to THE Captain America. The fourth film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it was the first one to go back in time and it introduced many staples of the later Marvel films such as Peggy Carter, Bucky Barnes, Arnim Zola and the Red Skull.

The actual war elements of this film are fairly slim, it takes about an hour until Captain America gets anywhere near a battlefield, and we don’t really get to see Americans fighting Nazis either. However, the enemy comes in the form of Hydra, a secret organisation posing as the Nazi science division, hellbent on world domination. To make up for the lack of battlefield action though, there is plenty of army training to sink your teeth into, like this scene for example.

Kong: Skull Island

Again, some liberties are taken with calling 2017’s Kong: Skull Island a war film, as it’s more of a monster film. There have been plenty of adaptations of the King Kong story over the years, including the original released in 1933 and the more recent version by Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson in 2005 (his first film since completing the infamous trilogy). However, the 1933 version was contemporary and the 2005 one was also set in 1933 during the Great Depression. This one, however, is set mainly in 1973, just after the climax of the Vietnam War.

The film features a squad who have just finished their tour of the Southeast Asian country, and one of the core central themes to the narrative is the clash between them and the scientists also on the expedition as to how how the threat of Kong should be combatted. Instead of focusing directly on war, the film shows us a clash of mindsets, of those who’ve just come from the battlefield and those who have never experienced one. I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but there will be bombs.

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Jaime Hunter
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